"The First 90 Days" featuring Hudson Nationals Theron Harvey

by Brian Dobak
January 31, 2011

2009 marked Theron Harvey’s first year as Director of Golf at Hudson National Golf Club on Croton-On-Hudson, New York. Before settling at Hudson National with his family, Theron was the Head Golf Professional at The ACE Club in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania. Taking it back further, Theron served as an assistant professional at Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey, Monroe Golf Club in New York, Colliers Reserve Country Club in Florida, and Las Cruces Country Club in New Mexico.

When I asked Theron what he believes were key aspects that he had to focus on as Director of Golf in his first 90 days, he gave some great insight into how he broke the process down of transitioning through his first year at Hudson National. From my interpretation, it seems like Theron really took a holistic approach in that he focused on the whole of the golf operation by dissecting each department down and evaluating what was currently in place and creating a plan relative to what was needed in each department. When all was said and done, the retooled departments were pieced back together again into a cohesive, well-oiled golf operation ready to exceed expectations and serve the members and guests on a daily basis. The breakdown of his approach was as follows:

Daily Operations

The primary concern for Theron’s approach with general daily operations was making sure everyone was on the same page regarding the team’s vision, leadership, and individual roles. Theron has a great Head Professional under his wing, Chris Cavanagh, so it wasn’t painfully difficult to get everyone on the same page.

Another emphasis for daily operations was communication to staff, to the membership, and the Superintendent, Chris Smith. A member contact information notebook was created for the front counter, as well as clear expectations were communicated with Chris Smith regarding daily course set-up, tee placements, and pin sheets. Another key aspect of this communication that they strived for was the updating of the member website regarding staff descriptions, tournament schedules, instruction programs, and fitness programs.

Many small aspects went in to revamping and improving the golf operation at Hudson National. Staffing issues had to be sorted out including office use, staff uniforms, name tags, staff phones, and shop voicemails. An organizational chart was created to further streamline communication. The organization chart included every pertinent position in the golf operation from the General Manager, down to the starter station and guard station.

Then there was a mass updating process of current aspects of the golf operation. This included the updating of the bag room list and notebook, the club repair notebook, the golf cart notebook (watering and rotation), the suggestion/complaint notebook, and starter notebook with rounds and times. Also updated was tee sheet program to block new rules of play, tournaments, and outings. Updating staff plates in golf shop was important. Also of importance was the updating of the Club Rules notebook when finalized by the Board of Directors. The Club Rules notebook consists of the Guest Policies, handicaps, directions, and things of that nature. Finally, a great program Theron started for the golf shops daily operations was a list of “never out” items for golf operations. These are items designated by staff as items that they should never run out of and should always be kept at a par level, like balls, gloves, tees, ball marker, etc.


The next area to attend to was instruction. One of the first things he put his focus on was hiring a full time teaching professional. In doing so, he created a job description and a list of benefits that came with the position. With regards to the staff, he thought it important to centralize lesson booking by having one lesson book to be used by all staff. Advertising price changes for all but individual lessons was pertinent. Promoting lessons, lesson packages, clinics, and golf schools on bulletin boards in the ladies and men’s locker rooms.

The teaching facility needed organizing. It was cleaned up, a TV was installed, all V1 software was updated, and sequence photos were posted as well as posters and pictures. Short game flags were set up on the range. Theron upgraded the range balls to ProV1’s. He also created a relationship with the local Titleist Performance Institute fitness instructors Scott Reilly and Dr. Rob Neal to set up preseason seminars and in-season clinics with the professionals.


The first thing on the priority list with respect to the merchandising operation was creating a form letter to update all vendors of staffing and billing changes. Reviewing inventory and sales procedures was pertinent as well as selecting the shops new vendors. A cash flow chart and buying plan was created as well as an analysis of each sales category. Theron and his staff set up a skeleton/layout of the golf shop to reorganize the golf shops displays and a count was taken of each fixture and section to determine proper merchandising capabilities. A list of “props” was made to be purchased such as vases, small trunks, suitcases, etc.

A master list was created of all accessories that needed to be purchased such as hats, belts, socks, underwear, shoes, sunglasses, etc. A notebook was created for all orders and purchase orders. A vendor catalogue file for special orders was created. New purchase order books were ordered and a procedures manual was created for special orders, gift cards, etc. New and fair pricing was reconsidered for the membership and communicated to them. Liquidators were contacted to get rid of old clothing and the PGA was called to liquidate old clubs. Lastly, a schedule of demo days was set up through the year with multiple vendors.

Tournament Program

Pertinent to the tournament program was the complete review of the previous years calendar and creating a master golf calendar for 2009. The member event handbook had to be finalized with event descriptions, formats, pricing, etc. A credit card size calendar for the members was created for their personal use. Tournament invitations and information deadlines were uploaded on Therons Blackberry. Tournament checklists with budgets and deadlines were created. Notebooks were gathered and set up for each event. All tournament orders were organized and placed ahead of time. All staff was familiarized and trained on Event Man Software. An inter-club schedule was created with other top clubs and the possibility of hosting a pro-member or pro-am type tournament was broached.

Locker Room

With regards to the locker room, an emphasis on a more cohesive relationship with the Food & Beverage department was sought. Also, it was vital that all locker plates, locker tag procedures, and policies and procedures were updated accordingly. Issues of staffing, scheduling, and budgeting were all revisited to enhance the operation of the locker room. Finally, a review of all amenities available to members and guests was done to make sure everyone was on the same page going forward.

Caddie Program

New expectations for the caddie program were outlined when Theron came aboard. Uniforms and name tags became a requirement. Caddie professionalism was stressed, i.e. calling members and guests as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” In that regards, first names were no longer to be used. Vital to the operation was making sure the caddies played a larger role in policing play within their group. No player is allowed to play the clubs new Titleist Pro V1 practice balls. Also, no player is allowed to have their golf cart ever leave the fairway while playing to the green. When exiting and entering the tees and greens, the golf bags are to be carried. To improve the practices of the caddies and their supervisors, a template was created for two caddie reports by the caddiemaster. Personal caddie observation reports are to be turned in once per week. Additionally, a caddie utilization report every week with member and guest comments is to be submitted. Record of all start and finish times, slow play, or poor etiquette is to be submitted as well.

As you can see, in the first year, the breadth of what sometimes needs to be done in a particular operation can be intimidating. However that’s why so many veteran head professionals preach the importance of the hiring of great staff. Having the right people by your side will make all of the difference in being able to accomplish a laundry list of tasks such as this one. Hopefully by reading this, your perspective has been broadened and you will be up to the task when you are finally called to run your own golf operation.